If you’re fond of a little bit of speed every now and then, you might be having second thoughts about a new Volvo right now.
As part of its enduring road safety mission, the Swedish car manufacturer is set to limit the top speed of all of its cars — to just 112mph (180km/h).
Volvo has been something of a pioneer of safety for decades. It was a Volvo engineer that invented the three-point safety belt, with the brand making it standard in 1959 — and opting to make the patent open for others to follow suit.
The company’s current safety goal is to ensure no-one is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by next year. It’s a project it calls “Vision 2020”, and while it can make cars as clever as can be at avoiding accidents — and effective at keeping occupants safe when it doesn’t — there’s still some gaps Volvo wants to close.
These all center on driver behavior, and excess speed is one of the brand’s three major concerns. Jan Ivarsson, deputy director and senior technical advisor at Volvo Cars, notes:
“As humans, we all understand the dangers with snakes, spiders and heights. With speeds, not so much. People often drive too fast in a given traffic situation and have poor speed adaption in relation to that traffic situation and their own capabilities as a driver. We need to support better behaviour and help people realise and understand that speeding is dangerous.”
It’s a notion mirrored by a recent proposal from safety experts in the European Parliament. That plan will introduce a GPS-linked speed limiter device in all new cars, preventing them from exceeding the local speed limit. However, while drivers can turn that system off (for now), Volvo’s limiter is more unequivocal.
Other “gaps towards zero” that Volvo identify include intoxication and distraction. Volvo notes it’s illegal in most territories to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but this still contributes a significant amount towards incidents. Drivers who are distracted, for example by mobile phones, are just as dangerous as drunk drivers, according to Volvo. It will announce further plans for such drivers later this month.
Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, comments:
“We want to start a conversation about whether car makers have the right or maybe even an obligation to install technology in cars that changes their driver’s behaviour, to tackle things such as speeding, intoxication or distraction. We don’t have a firm answer to this question, but believe we should take leadership in the discussion and be a pioneer.
“Volvo is a leader in safety: we always have been and we always will be. Because of our research, we know where the problem areas are when it comes to ending serious injuries and fatalities in our cars. And while a speed limitation is not a cure-all, it’s worth doing if we can even save one life.”